Earthkeeper Turkey Awards

In the spirit of the holiday, we give thanks for all the things in our lives that make us feel good and are good for our environment (eating locally-grown food, riding a bike, the uniquely satisfying experience of planting a tree).  Simple pleasures like these make Earthkeeping easy.

And then there are the things that make Earthkeeping not so easy – not for lack of good intentions, but of good judgment and execution.  Timberland’s Director of Corporate Communications, Robin Giampa, shares the following Turkey Awards:

I don’t like to waste stuff:  time, paper, money, whatever.  I’m not a perfect role model for environmental responsibility, but in this time of dwindling resources (both financial and natural) you can’t help being mindful of your consumption and how you dispose of things.

And so I get irritated when inexplicable choices are happening on a large scale, and at a corporate level.  I know that the bigger the organization, the harder it is sometimes to make change, but I’m not even talking about big things.  Case in point:

  • I received an award in the mail last week, given to Timberland by a socially-conscious organization for our socially-conscious behavior.  Imagine my surprise when I opened an enormous box filled with Styrofoam peanuts (and no, not the corn kind), surrounding a crystal statue.  To make matters worse, apparently many awards in the first “batch”  mailed out were broken;  when we learned they wanted to send a replacement, we gently suggested that wasn’t necessary — we were happy enough with the verbal recognition.  Two months later, the replacement award – and its packing peanuts — arrives.  No doubt, the intent was right-on: reward and encourage ethical behavior.  And I was thrilled that the company was bestowed the honor.  But I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my disappointment in the way it was bestowed.  How is as important as what.     
  • Here’s another example: we have an electronic system for submitting employee expenses.  BUT — you have to print a hard copy of the form as well.  Then, you have to put that hard copy in an envelope (new envelopes only, please – used inter-office envelopes are not accepted) and submit it.  Yes, you put your previously-submitted-online expenses in a brand new envelope and then into a central bin where they are (mercifully) collected together and mailed in one shipment.  I’m certain there are good reasons for what I perceive as bureaucracy, but I bet there are ways to simplify it, too.  
  • Unrelated to the physical waste in those two examples is what happened when I tried to get a new light bulb recently.  We use a well-known office supply company and we order online from a list of pre-determined choices.  Not being overly familiar with the ordering system (or the fact that apparently we’re not supposed to order light bulbs at all, but get them from our resource center) I asked a colleague to order me one CFL bulb for my office lamp.  We ordered the one and only option available – for $26.  I thought surely Timberland has vetted this and it must be one fantastic bulb that would last for decades, but in fact it looks exactly like the one I bought at the eco-fair in our cafeteria last week – for a dollar.  Of course, I’ve raised the silliness of this and it’s being rectified, but how long has this $26 light bulb thing been going on?  Could I seriously the first person to notice?

It’s not even a question for me that in each of these cases, we’re all just trying to do the right thing – but sometimes I think it’s easier to say “not my job” and keep going.  What if we all considered the choices we make in the course of a day and took notice of the places we can improve things?  Maybe we’d be able to tread a little more lightly.

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